|This is what it should look like.|
There are few reasons for this:
1) Tom Scocca has already written the definitive article on mac and cheese. This is it, you guys. There should be no further questions. If you haven't already read this, do not punch yourself in the face first, because after you've read it, you will feel like you've been punched in the face with the truth.
2) Because after you've read Tom's Fundamentalist Macaroni and Cheese you will see how stupid easy this is and never feel the need to say anything about it ever again. From that point forward, you will speak only through the power of your macaroni and cheese. Without fail, at any family gathering, this is what people request that I make. Not to overestimate myself, but I'm pretty competent in the kitchen - they basically want me to make something that I could train their dog to make. So clearly, truth bombs on the matter of mac and cheese still need to be dispersed.
I know that most people writing about food will obey the rules this week. We are not supposed to be talking about mac and cheese. We are supposed to be talking about juice cleanses and garlic broths. Anti-inflammatory, detoxifying goji berry and kombucha smoothies. (I'm sorry, that made me throw up too.)
Here at Chronicles of a Stomach Grumble, we say fuck you to all that. You're going to be so sick of that shit by next week. And frankly, if you don't know how to saute up some kale, you're probably not reading this thing. So eat your kale, drink your smoothies. And when your body inevitably shouts, "GIVE ME THE CHEESE BACK," read Tom's article and get to work.
|Prepare yourself a stick with which to slap away your family's fingers.|
Fundamentalist Macaroni and Cheese (with Rules Broken)
I know. You're like, "all that talk about following Tom's guidance to the letter and you're already screwing with it?" Have you people ever known me to be different? Make it Tom's way, like, five times. Then do whatever you want.
I was seriously tempted to not even include a recipe because I really just want you to read Tom's, but since recipes (and not me cursing all the time) are what half of you are here for, I guess we'll do one.
1lb elbow macaroni
At least 1lb cheddar, probably a little more
Preheat your oven to 350. Boil water in a big pasta pot. Salt the water (seriously, I hope you know this already).
Grate all the cheese. You will second-guess how much cheese you are grating - then just keep going. Grate it all.
When your water is boiling, cook your elbows in it. PASTA elbows, not your arms, idiot. Take into account that you are basically going to keep cooking them for an hour in the oven, so undercook them just a little. To quote Tom, "Do not overcook it, just because you are making American food. Macaroni is half the dish here, and it should be treated with respect." Drain your pasta and throw some butter into the colander with it.
Throw some more butter into the pot and swirl it around so it coats the sides. Then put your pasta back in the same damned pot. Add your cheese gradually, saving some to put on the very top.
Okay, here is where I start acting like a petulant little brat: Put some other shit in it if you want! I've taken to tossing in a spoonful of mustard here and there. If there's creme fraiche in your fridge put some of that in there for creaminess. Here is the only improvement upon Tom's recipe that I can fully sponsor: put a tablespoon or so of cayenne pepper into the mix. Just do it. A little goes a long way, but just do it.
Cover the top with the remaining cheese. Sprinkle some coarse salt on there, a little more cayenne pepper and black pepper, if you want it. Then pour milk over the top. How much milk? You didn't even look at Tom's article, did you? Scocca:
"Pour a big slug of milk over the macaroni and the cheese. How much? Tip the pot from side to side. The milk should just peep into view, down there at the edge of the macaroni."Okay? Dude, I know it's not a measurement. This is how you cook when you cook with your own brain and not someone else's. Just FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH. Dot this monster with butter and put the whole pot in the oven for about 45 minutes. When it's brown on top and you can't see any more milk when you tip it around, it's done. Let it sit for 10 minutes so no one sues you.
This is it, guys. This is really mac and cheese.